Tester hammers House plan that ‘wipes out’ Medicare while preserving tax loopholes
Senator pushes responsible, bipartisan ‘Gang of Six’ plan to cut debt and spending
(U.S. SENATE) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today is calling on Congress to support a bipartisan budget plan “that comes out of the middle” instead of the House’s unpopular plan to “wipe out” Social Security, Medicare and veterans’ benefits while protecting expensive tax loopholes for the wealthy and for companies that ship American jobs overseas.
“It’s incredible to me that some folks have no problem turning their backs on America’s seniors and veterans, while at the same time preserving tax loopholes that benefit millionaires and Big Oil and Wall Street,” Tester told the Senate today.
After voting against it, Tester hammered the House’s controversial “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan, calling it partisan, misleading and saying that Montanans and Americans deserve better.
“The very things this bill claims to exempt: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, veterans health care – and the interest we pay on our debt – will cost more than what will be allowed under this cap,” Tester said. “That means there would be nothing left for the military, our infrastructure, homeland security and just about everything else.”
“How is that going to work?” Tester added. “It won’t, unless you invent your own math.”
Tester instead highlighted the bipartisan “Gang of Six” plan, which secures Social Security and Medicare by preventing them from going broke. The “Gang of Six” plan also makes significant spending cuts while closing wasteful tax loopholes.
“Unlike the House’s unpopular, partisan plan to wipe out Medicare while protecting expensive tax loopholes for millionaires and Big Oil, our plan is designed by both parties to actually cut spending and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse,” Tester said. “Now we need to move to a bipartisan plan that comes out of the middle – not the partisan extremes.”
Video of Tester’s floor speech is online HERE.
Text of Tester’s floor speech appears below.
U.S. Senator Jon Tester
July 22, 2011
Prepared for Delivery.
Mr. President, you should hear the people back in Montana. They’re watching the news and reading the papers, shaking their heads.
I don’t blame them. I’m shaking my head too.
Because we just wasted two precious days debating a plan that wipes out Medicare and Social Security. A plan that guts veterans benefits. Yes, that’s exactly what this plan does.
And that’s exactly why I opposed it.
It’s incredible to me that some folks have no problem turning their backs on America’s seniors and veterans, while at the same time preserving tax loopholes that benefit millionaires and Big Oil and Wall Street. And corporations that ship jobs overseas.
That, Mr. President, is why Montanans and people across this country are shaking their heads. It’s why folks don’t think much of Washington these days.
My friends in the House know full well that this bill is no friend of seniors or veterans. They know full well it will force deep cuts on Medicare and Social Security. They know full well.
So do you know what they did? What do career politicians do when they want people to believe that their plan to cut Medicare somehow exempts Medicare? You just add some language saying: “Exempt Medicare.” That’s exactly what they did.
But Montanans deserve better. All Americans deserve better.
So let’s look at the whole truth.
First, let’s talk about the cuts. This plan locks in the cuts proposed by the controversial House Budget Plan in the House. And it locks them in for a full decade. That means we’ll see more than $111 billion in cuts this year alone.
That’s 10 percent. Will it be a 10 percent cut to veterans health care? To our highway and water infrastructure? To education?
They won’t tell us how they plan to make those cuts. Maybe they will take a little less out of veterans. But at the expense of our cops and firefighters.
Maybe they’ll take a few less dollars out of agriculture research. But then kick a few more kids out of Head Start.
Now let’s talk about the cap.
This plan caps federal spending at 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product, requiring even further spending cuts.
18-percent brings us to a level this country hasn’t seen since 1966–about the time Medicare was created. Even Ronald Reagan advocated a rate higher than 18-percent.
Here’s the kicker — the small print you won’t hear from the people who already voted for this bill.
The annual interest on our debt and the very things this bill claims to exempt: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, veterans benefits will cost more than what will be allowed under this cap.
That means there would be nothing left to spend on anything else. That includes the military, our infrastructure, homeland security… And just about everything else.
So how is that going to work that this bill will protect Social Security and Medicare? It won't, unless you invent your own math.
If this bill passes, what are the lawmakers who support it going to do? Do they really intend to close down the Pentagon? I doubt it. But that means they have to go back and cut Medicare and Social Security.
Under this bill, it is their only choice.
I’m no number cruncher. But I know this doesn’t add up.
And the fact that we’re wasting time even giving it daylight in the Senate is exactly why people ought to keep shaking their heads back home.
They expect us to get the job done, responsibly. With common sense. And in a way that doesn’t dismantle Medicare or Social Security or hurt veterans.
I look forward to debating a bipartisan plan to responsibly cut debt and cut spending. And we’re working on one.
But the bill the Senate just voted on is anything but responsible.
The Senate has rejected it, and rightly so. Now we need to move to a bipartisan plan that comes out of the middle – not the partisan extremes.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.